Heart Disease

The heart is a muscle that acts as a pump. Upon receiving oxygen from the arteries wrapped around its surface, the heart will pump oxygenated blood throughout the body. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a buildup of fatty deposits in the coronary arteries, the arteries which supply blood to the heart. These fatty substances, such as cholesterol, fat or cells that collect along the lining of the coronary arteries are called plaque. Most of the plaque build-up, either in the heart or the blood vessels, develops over the course of time. Because the arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart, any blockages left untreated can result in the risk of experiencing a heart attack, stroke or even death.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Patients most likely to develop heart disease have the following risk factors:

  • High blood pressure
  • A close relative with heart disease
  • A high LDL cholesterol level
  • High triglycerides
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Kidney disease
  • Overweight
  • No regular exercise program

Diagnosing Heart Disease

If a patient has risk factors that would cause them to develop heart disease or they have already experienced symptoms, the doctor may recommend the following tests:

  • Exercise stress test
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Chest X-ray
  • Blood tests

The results of these tests may indicate the need for further testing.

Preventing Heart Disease

Patients can help prevent or slow down the advancement of heart disease by adhering to the following regimen:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Lowering their blood pressure
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising on a regular basis
  • Getting regular medical checkups

Additional Resources